|Issue: March 1, 2008
THE MILL CREATES 'TIPPING POINT' FOR GUINNESS
|LONDON – Late last year, The Mill (www.the-mill.com) created a :90 spot
for Guinness that emphasized the motto, “Good things come to those who
wait.” The spot takes place in an Argentine village, where residents
have come together to witness and support an extraordinary event.
A dominoes set up is triggered to set off an elaborate display
throughout the village’s winding streets that includes books, paint,
furniture, appliances and even cars. The commercial’s high point is its
finale, where a two-story tall stack of textbooks flaps its pages,
starting from the ground and working their way up. From afar, the
viewer sees that the books are stacked much like a pint glass and the
pages resemble the rising foam of a freshly poured Guinness.
Using a FilmLight Baselight system, colorist Paul Harrison graded Tipping Point,
out of AMV BBDO, which was shot with five cameras over the course of
six very long days. The challenge was to make it appear as if the spot
had been shot in realtime, so Harrison pushed Baselight to the max,
breathing life into marginal shots, accommodating visual effects
updates and facilitating the delivery of versions for cinema and
international television distribution.
The Mill’s visual effects team applied its artistic touch to nearly
every scene, compositing in extra villagers and animals, applying
graffiti and texture to walls, and blending in dust and other
atmospheric effects to enhance the richness and cinematic quality of
the imagery. The giant pint of Guinness is a wholly-digital creation
conjured up by the facility’s 3D team using Side Effects’ Houdini
Color grading helped set the commercial’s moody atmosphere and odd
sense of realism. The imagery has a slightly washed out, golden cast
and is roughly textured as if it were a decades old documentary
retrieved from a dusty film vault.
Once the spot was edited, The Mill scanned the select 35mm negative
elements to 2K data for grading on Baselight. “We wanted to give it a
distinctive look and make it look photographic,” recalls Harrison. “I
especially liked the craggy old faces and tried to get as much texture
out of them as possible.”
He completed the grade under the supervision of BBDO’s creative team
and MJZ director Nicolai Fuglsig. Cinematographer Ellen Kuras sat in
via a live feed from The Mill’s New York office.
Before Harrison could finalize the look, he had to establish
consistency among source material captured with different cameras,
stocks, in different locations and at different times, under varying
lighting conditions. One scene, showing a collapsing pyramid of
mattresses, had been shot at the end of a production day.
“The light was pretty much gone,” he recalls. “It was almost like doing a night-for-day shot.”
In resurrecting the shot, Harrison was aided by a feature of Baselight
that enabled him to define multiple, complex mattes within a single
frame and apply individual color treatments to each simultaneously.
“I was able to draw mattes of certain areas and then soft matte them
together,” he explains. “I could take down the side of a building,
without affecting the front, and give the mattresses a different
treatment. I achieved a good balance and it was all done in one go.”
As many as 16 layers were used for some of those shots. “It was a bit
of a jigsaw and amazing to compare how it started out with how it ended
up. It would have been a struggle to do it with a traditional telecine.
Baselight was the only way.”
Even as Harrison was working on the grade, visual effects production
was ongoing elsewhere in the facility. As a result, shots were being
constantly updated. “I was grading from the same data as the Flame guys
and there was a lot of chopping and changing. If new effects were added
to a scene that I had already graded, we would simply put it on
Baselight and check to make sure it was all working nicely and tweak
things that needed tweaking. Baselight was great for that.”
The Baselight system also made the process of preparing deliverables
more efficient. After Harrison finished grading the :90 cinema version,
his work was essentially done, as elements from it could be repurposed
for other versions without reprocessing or re-grading. Only shots that
did not appear in the original version required grading.
The Mill has been using the Baselight system for two years and the
studio’s input has played a crucial role in the on-going development of
the tool, in particular in improving its usefulness as a platform for